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Alpha Flight #1 – Review

By: Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente (writers), Dale Eaglesham (pencils), Andrew Hennessy (inks), Sonia Oback (colors), Simon Bowland (letters), Jake Thomas (assistant editor), Mark Paniccia (editor)

The Story: Alpha Flight is called into action to save Vancouver from one of the hammer-wielding “Worthy” of Fear Itself.

What’s Good: This is a title that had a LOT to live up to.  When I was a kid, everyone read Uncanny X-Men and while we all loved those stories, the “cool comic kids” read Alpha Flight.  I was lucky enough to catch the first 25 issues of John Byrne’s initial series and thought it was outstanding.  Then I missed all the later stuff that I know some people have derided, so I really hoped that this issue wouldn’t do anything to damage my memory of those first 25 issues from the early 80’s.

This isn’t a perfect comic (more on that below), but it’s pretty darn good and worthy of the Alpha Flight name.  The basic set up for the issue flings us right into the action as Attuma and his fancy FEAR ITSELF hammer storm ashore in Vancouver and start smashing stuff.  Alpha Flight joins the fight and in the matter of a few pages, the creative team has introduced us to the entire team by name and shown us how their powers work.  The whole issue is mostly a big, fast-paced fight scene that works really well and is enjoyable to read.

Dale Eaglesham is just a really solid superhero artist.  There’s a lot of different stuff for him to draw in this issue: muscular guys like Guardian, attractive women like Vindicator & Aurora, hairy & hulking characters like Sasquatch, and the whole pile of Attuma’s Atlantean forces.  Eaglesham nails them all.  The issue is also nicely inked and colored.  It is a very attractive superhero comic.

What’s Not So Good: I know that this is part of the FEAR ITSELF plot, but I so thoroughly don’t care about the political undertones of this issue, the election of some extremist politician to Prime Minister and whatever he may do during FEAR ITSELF.  The superhero bits of this are really strong and that’s generally been true of FEAR ITSELF, but when the stories shift from these dudes with hammers smashing stuff to scared civilians or politicians, the story goes from really good to really weak.

The only character I struggled with in this issue was Northstar because his introduction seemed to be about defining him by his homosexuality since the rest of the team is fighting and he’s cuddling with his boyfriend.  Why not have him save the day first and THEN go home to his boyfriend?  I just think that Northstar is a hero who just happens to be a gay man, but he’s introduced as a gay man who doesn’t really want to join the fight until goaded into doing so.  He’s always been kind of a prickly character, so this isn’t abnormal behavior for him, but I cringe a little for newcomers who know nothing about Northstar except that he is gay.  Not a huge deal, but it bugged me a bit.

Conclusion: A really strong first issue of Alpha Flight.  It isn’t without a few problems (few comics are), but it succeeded very well in (a) not sucking and (b) recapturing that early 80’s Alpha Flight feel.

Grade: B

-Dean Stell

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8 Responses

  1. I truly hope that the Alpha Flight’s team is the real thing and not clones or anything like that

  2. I don’t think the Canadian flag has been turned upside down ever. But it looks pretty badass, as is.

    As for your problem with the political parts – I loved it.

    When the PM decides to remove the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, that’s like removing the Constitution from America. The catch is, it’s been done in Canada before when shit hit the fan here.

    This Fear Itself is such a big problem that the Emergencies Act has been reinstated. That means the government can do whatever it wants. What it seems to be building up to is that Alpha Flight are going have their government against them.

    Politics rule, and so does this comic! I agree with everything else you said.

    • It does seem that most folks like the political element in these comics. I just find comics to be such weak tea when it comes to “real world” stuff. Folks could find more compelling reading material in a lot of other mediums.

      • I agree with you there. But I think for “Fear Itself”, having the government remove all rights of its citizens is pretty awesome. It’s playing right into what Fear Itself should be. If anything, this is doing a better job than the parent title (and maybe a bit worse-off than Home Front).

        I’m just excited to see where the team will be headed in this series.

  3. The artist on the variant covers is the same artist who is drawing the story inside, Dale Eaglesham…A Canadian. If you have an issue with the flag being upside down, take it up with him.

    • Hey Dana,

      I saw that after doing the comments below. I dunno….maybe it is an accepted thing in Canada too? Or maybe it’s just a piece of American culture that has crept over the border?

  4. Not to nitpick, but why is our flag upside down? Is that plot-relevant? Maybe Alex can tell us if all the flags in Vancouver are upside down? :-)

    • Funny….I wondered what the hell you were talking about and flipped though my issue 3 times looking for an image of the Canadian flag upside down. Then I see that here Ray has the variant cover (which I don’t have). :)

      Down here in the States, an upside down United States flag is an official sign of distress and is not disrespectful. I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen it done other than at political rallies where some group thinks that some politicians have so ruined our country that flying the flag upside down is warranted. A quick google search doesn’t point to any similar use of the Canadian flag. All I can assume is that the artist of the variant cover is an American who thought this would be a snappy way to show that Canada is under distress.

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